New project investigates the climate adaptation potential of mangroves

Date: 1 December 2017

Introduction: Stijn Temmerman (UAntwerpen) and national and international colleagues will study carbon storage and sediment accumulation in tidal mangroves and marshes.

Coastal wetlands, such as mangroves and marshes, are unique ecosystems that are often feared to be lost by sea level rise. However, to some extent they can adapt to a rising sea level by raising their elevation via sediment accumulation. Through this process, they also contribute to climate change mitigation by storing carbon into their soils.

Stijn Temmerman and Jean-Philippe Belliard (Global Change Ecology Centre, Research Group Ecosystem Management) now received new project funding from Research Foundation Flanders ( to conduct a pioneer integrated field and modelling study on sea level-sediment-carbon feedbacks in both mangroves and marshes. While there is already quite some related knowledge in marshes, this project is the first to investigate mangroves and to develop models predicting sea level-sediment-carbon feedbacks during the 21st century.

Through the coupled study, Stijn and his colleagues from Leuven University (Steven Bouillon and Gerard Govers) and American, Dutch and Asian partner institutions aim to transpose current knowledge from marshes to the poorly studied mangroves. In the end, they will provide a new global assessment of carbon storage and areas of mangroves and marshes at risk of drowning under 21st century sea level rise.

LandSat satellite image of the Sundarbarns mangroves (source: NASA Earth Observatory) – a potential study location.